Gum disease usually starts as gingivitis or a mild case of inflamed gums. But if you allow it to progress, this condition can lead to periodontal disease and tooth decay. Although gum disease comes from bacteria living in your mouth, there are many dental tactics you can use to fight it to keep your gums healthy. Using mouthwash for gum disease can especially help you win the battle.
Time to Take Action
When bacterial plaque is not thoroughly removed from your teeth and around your gums, you may start to notice signs of gum disease. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) describes the signs of mild gum disease – or gingivitis – as red, swollen or bleeding gums and bad breath. Symptoms of advanced gum disease include sensitive or even loose teeth, painful chewing and a receding gumline. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's time to call your dentist and bring out the dental artillery.
How Mouthwash Can Help
Many people use a cosmetic mouthwash to freshen their breath, but a mouthwash formulated to kill germs can do much more for you – especially if you're showing signs of early gum disease. An over-the-counter antimicrobial mouthwash like Colgate® Total Advanced Pro-Shield™ kills 99 percent of bacteria found in your mouth for up to 12 hours, and helps reduce plaque on your teeth. Because it kills the bacteria responsible for gingivitis and bad breath at the same time, an antimicrobial rinse is a great add-on to your regular oral hygiene routine to prevent or reverse gum disease in its early stages. When shopping for an antimicrobial mouthwash, the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site recommends that you look for a product that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Ongoing or Advanced Care
If your dentist is treating you for gum disease that has yet to subside, he may advise using a prescription-strength mouthwash as part of your treatment regimen. Colgate® PerioGuard® is an example of a therapeutic rinse that contains chlorhexidine gluconate, a broad spectrum antimicrobial that kills many kinds of bacteria. Used for the treatment of gingivitis, this rinse attacks germs to reduce inflammation, bleeding gums and plaque formation. It's a safe and effective product, but as with any drug, you need to follow your dentist's instructions for use. Let your dentist know immediately if you have any sensitivity or similar adverse side effects as well.
Other Tools to Fight Gum Disease
When it comes to fighting gum disease, don't forget the basics; toothbrushing twice a day is your main defense to clean bacterial plaque from your teeth and gums. And the daily use of dental floss is necessary to clean plaque from between your teeth. In addition, be sure to replace your toothbrush regularly. Frayed bristles don't clean well, and old brushes can harbor bacteria.
Regular, professional cleanings at your dentist's office will remove the plaque and hard tartar that forms on your teeth before it has a chance to cause gum disease. A cleaning can also help reverse gingivitis in its early stages. If you build up tartar over time, your dentist may recommend a tartar control toothpaste and more frequent cleanings.
An antimicrobial mouthwash is a great tool to have in your arsenal for keeping your gums healthy. But to be effective, a mouthwash for gum disease needs to be used in conjunction with your other tried-and-true hygiene tools.